Leo Johnson’s birthday party
Possibly played by Premier League footballer Andy Carroll, Leo Johnson was the drug-smuggling, plaid-wearing, abusive husband of Shelly who worked at the Double R diner. After Leo was shot, he spent most of the series in a vegetative state. In a benefits scam that would have the Daily Mail outraged, Shelly and her new lover Bobby ‘cared’ for Leo to receive maintenance payments.
The best example of this was the mock(ing) party they threw for an oblivious Leo, complete with streamers, party hats and cake, which he fell face down into (“good thing we didn’t light the candles”). The scene was brilliant for its absurd hilarity, but also the genuine viewer nervousness that Leo would regain consciousness at any second, catch his wife shagging Bobby on the table, and beat him into pulpy sawdust.
Leland grieves via the medium of dance
Even before his hair turned white with the shock of grief, Leland Palmer’s struggle with his daughter Laura’s death was plain for all to see. The scene at the Great Northern Hotel when he hears the jitterbug start up and begins to dance alone, weeping gently to the music, is as uncomfortable to watch as it is a wonderful portrayal of the truly awkward, nonsensical, unhinged form that bereavement can take. Laura’s mother’s scream during the pilot is just as powerful.
The comic foil to Leland’s dance of grief is when Catherine, embarrassed, tries to pretend Leland’s despairing grasp at his temples is a legit dance move, and everybody follows suit, smiling broadly, seemingly unaware that the guy is having a major breakdown. Genius on Lynch’s part.
This dream scene makes every single horror film produced since seem about as terrifying as a Hollyoaks late night special, and that’s without taking into account Bob’s navy denim waistcoat. From the opening flickering lights of the deserted hospital corridors, to the twisted, gnarled face of Laura Palmer, to the jagged flashes of light and the camera panning down her mutilated body, this scene is harrowing from beginning to end. The end, incidentally, is a shot of Bob fanged and blood-splattered howling with laughter in the dark. Shudder.
When Audrey almost joins the mile high club
Way before Billy Zane was scooping up kids that weren’t his to secure a place on a lifeboat, he was scooping Audrey Horne into his arms on an airfield hosting his private jet. Having bunked a lift off Pete to try to catch up with her lover John to persuade him to stay (à la Ross and Rachel in Friends years later), Audrey rather cringeworthingly splutters out that she’s a virgin. John takes her hand and they go and have sex in his plane before he departs.
Afterwards, Pete sheds a tear and invites Audrey fishing, telling her: “There’s no better cure for a broken heart than a trout leaping in the moonlight.” Right.
Shot in moody, red light, the intro sounds like an early Beatles track and James’ lisping falsetto is similar to David Lynch’s vocals on his Crazy Clown Time album. Donna and Madeleine’s backing singing is brilliantly sent up as both try to seduce their teen hunk with doe-eyed, open-mouthed crooning. This scene has all the awkwardness of a guy at uni singing to you in his dorm room, and all the beauty of the hairs on your arms letting you know you want to snog someone as a teenager. Nice Gibson Les Paul too.
Gordon’s hearing miracle
Gordon Cole is the funniest character on Twin Peaks, along with receptionist Lucy. Played by David Lynch himself, Coop’s loveable and half-deaf boss from the city could always be relied on for acute observations and hilarious mishaps.
When Gordon meets Shelly Johnson for the first time, he realises that he can hear her perfectly clearly, and doesn’t need his hearing aid (“my socks are on fire!”). After swooning over Shelly for most of his time in town, Gordon finally gets a kiss, right in front of Shelly’s boyfriend Bobby. “You are witnessing a front three quarter view of two adults sharing a tender moment”, he tells him.
THAT move with the cherry stalk by Audrey
There are websites dedicated to copying it; in ten seconds, actress Sherilyn Fenn managed to melt impotency and boost grocers’ supplies worldwide when she tied a bow in a cherry stalk with her tongue. Despite the grubby undertone that Audrey was auditioning to be a prostitute at One Eyed Jack’s, this is probably one of the sexiest scenes ever to grace television – Gail’s flirting on Corrie aside. For other examples of Audrey being incredibly sexy, check out the swaying scene or indeed, any other scene with Audrey in it.
Nadine invents silent curtain runners
Nadine, who after she came out of her coma became a whirlwind of brute strength and energetic innovation decided she was going to invent the world’s first silent curtain runners. And boy, was she excited about it. When her husband Big Ed tramps grease through the house she is furious, but the next day she has an epiphany and lubes up the curtain rail with it. Ecstatic, she runs to tell Ed the good news, who just looks bemused. “We are gonna be so rich!” she smiles at him, drawing the curtains back and forth. The silent curtain runners did not take off, and they did not become rich. Sadface.
Waldo is taken out
Donuts splattered with feathers and blood seems like a typical Lynchian sort of absurdist shot, and in this case it comes when Waldo, a talking myna bird, is assassinated through a window. Coop and his men have been hoping that Waldo will give out some clues, having witnessed the last moments of Laura Palmer.
In terms of narrative technique for explaining a sexual assault and gruesome murder to viewers, nobody had utilised a talking myna bird before (or since). There’s also a great moment when Lucy, with everybody present, is played back on tape politely asking Waldo whether he’d like to share her orange. Cute.
The final scene
Twin Peaks’ final scene began with Coop brazenly wasting a tube of toothpaste by squirting it nonchalantly into a sink, and it soon became even more upsetting than that. When he stared hard into the mirror looking like he didn’t know himself, we knew exactly how he felt. But there was a feeling that this was much worse than a Sunday morning comedown, much worse. We never got to find out though, because ABC cancelled the show, just as the ominous cackling figure of evil Bob gurned back at him from the glass.